I don't know the full extent of the transaction, but Eric Patterson got the start at 2B tonight (Saturday) for the Iowa Cubs.
He celebrated his promotion from AA West Tennessee by smashing a home run in his first at bat. This is good news.
However, I think we must temper our natural enthusiasm with reality. Despite the call-up, Patterson actually wasn't hitting all that great at AA.
This was his hitting line at West Tenn coming into tonight's game:
8 HR, 48 RBI
.263/.330/.408 (.738 OPS)
441 AB, 46 BB/89 K, 38-12 SBs
This is what I wrote about Patterson at mid-season (July 16):
Eric Patterson, 2B (23 yrs, 3 months)
5 HR, 35 RBI
.280/.341/.416 (.757 OPS)
332 AB, 32 BB/66 K, 29-8 SBs
The younger brother of Corey Patterson, E-Patt burst onto the scene last year with a very good first year of pro ball at mid-A Peoria (.940 OPS and 40 SBs in 110 games).
Patterson has been less impressive at AA, but he has at least been respectable. It seems likely that Patterson will need a solid second half of play (an .800 OPS with good peripherals) to confirm his status as one of the organization's best position player prospects. At a young 23, Patterson is still at a decent age at AA, and will hopefully advance to Iowa for 2007 (anyone who projects Patterson as the Cubs' starting 2B in 2007 is really over-shooting Patterson's development).
Patterson's K rate is a little high (119K/600) this season, but it's an improvement upon last year's rate of 131K/600. These numbers are encouraging, especially considering his jump in levels of play. And while he hasn't shown as much extra base power as brother Corey, Patterson has shown much better plate discipline, with a BB/600 rate of 58/600 this season, for a total of 69/600 in his career (794 ABs).
You may have noticed, Patterson's OPS line has actually dropped a little bit since the break. However, just from eyeballing it, it looks like his BB rate and his ISO power have actually gone up a little bit in his last 100 ABs.
In any case, I like Patterson at this point. He has a good reputation for his defense and has demonstrated solid base-stealing and on-base skills. And, as of now, he probably projects out to a better Second Baseman than Ronny Cedeno. However, Patterson still has work to do to convince me that he will be a solid Major Leaguer.
I'm not sure yet what implication this has within the organizational roster. It's possible, perhaps, that Hendry, Fleita and co are trying to fast-track Patterson to see if he's a candidate for the 2B job in 2007. I also wonder what this does to Mike Fontenot. It will be interesting to see this play out.
Iowa also made another roster move today that I may like even more than promoting Patterson. LHP Carmen Pignatiello has re-joined the AAA team, and I think this is a good move. Pignatiello was on the Iowa roster last year, but struggled. He's mostly been at AA this season, but has shown that he has nothing left to prove there. He turns 24 next month, so now is the time to see if he can move up before he gets too old for his level of play.
These are Pignatiello's numbers at West Tenn before being promoted:
3-1, 2.69 ERA
60.1 IP, 52 H, 18 ER, 3 HR, 19 BB, 74 K; 1.18 WHIP
I also wrote about Pignatiello earlier this season (July 15):
Carmen Pignatiello, LHP (23 yrs, 10 months)
2-1, 2.89 ERA
46.2 IP, 42 H, 15 ER, 2 HR, 16 BB, 55 K
The Cubs selected Pignatiello out of high school in the 20th Round of the draft. He pitched very well as a starter in Low A ball, then stalled a little with back-to-back mid 4-point ERAs in 2003 at high-A Daytona (4.38) and in 2004 at West Tenn (4.56).
Making 6 of his 16 games out of the bullpen in 2005, Pignatiello pitched a very well at West Tenn (2.68 ERA in 80 IP) before being promoted to Iowa. Pitching mostly in relief (17 of 22 games), Pignatiello struggled at AAA, giving up a 5.51 ERA in 47 IP.
In 2006, except for one start, he's pitched the entire season at West Tenn in relief and has done very well. His BB/9 rates are right in line with his career numbers, and his K/9 this season (10.62) is almost two and a half Ks higher than an already solid career line of 8.28.
Still on the young side (he will turn 24 in mid-September), I am optimistic about Pignatiello's development.
It seems that in bringing up Patterson and Pignatiello, the Cubs have sent LHP Clay Rapada and RHP Rocky Cherry back to West Tennessee.
Rapada was an intriguing pitcher because he's owned AA hitters this year. But he had trouble getting guys out at Iowa, and at 25 and a half years old, he's pitching above his competition at West Tenn. I had hoped he would fare better at Iowa, but he didn't.
Cherry has also pitched extremely well at West Tennesse, but he just turned 27 years old (today) and doesn't project into much of a prospect.
And as a question-- it seems like Iowa has 28 active players on the roster. Is this because Miller, Bynum, and Marshall are on rehab assignments? What are the rules regarding that?